What makes a good leader? How do YOU define a good leader? Is it someone who is successful themselves, or is it someone who makes others feel successful? Is success defined by how much money we have, how many friends we have, or is it something bigger?
Lately it seems that I have spent a lot of time mulling over these and many other questions surrounding what makes a leader more than someone who is “in charge”. For the past year, my husband and I have been blessed to be entrepreneurs of sorts, but before that, for 19 years, I worked for a very large corporation as a manager. The company went through a phase where they felt a strong desire to train us to be more than just mangers, they wanted us to be great leaders. They didn’t only want us to go through the motions, but to relate to those we were surrounded by. We would spend weeks in hotel conference rooms with a trainer from across the country. This trainer would define to us the difference between a “boss” and a “leader”. As I aged and became more comfortable and confident in myself and my faith I did a significant amount of reflecting on that training, on how to be a great leader. I wanted to be someone people not only looked up to but felt comfortable with. I wanted make an impact on those people I interacted with daily, a positive influence on the lives that I touched. This has not changed today, and I find the older I become, the more I want the impression I leave behind to one that people look upon with favor, with a smile on their face. The concept of servant leadership is nothing new, in John chapter 13, verses 12-15, Jesus explains in clear in concise terms that we are here to lead with love, in a servant like manner. Jesus, the Man who came here to redeem us all, was the most elite example of a humble servant leader.
“12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." (MSG)
This concept of servant leadership is not only relevant to those who are leaders, mangers, and bosses in the work force, for you see, in some way or form we are all leaders. We are mothers and fathers who lead our children. We are sisters and brothers who have siblings who look up to us (even though we may not realize it). We are cousins and friends who make an impression upon the family and friends we interact with. (My children are surround by awesome family and friends that make an immense impact on their lives) We are coaches who lead a team of young, impressionable athletes. Coaches who have the ability to either set a good or bad example to the young minds they are helping to form. We are members of the Christian faith who are leading those who may not believe like us (or believe at all). We are a church family that look to one another for support, for affirmation, for love. It may be difficult to grasp, to fully wrap your head around this, but every single day, there is someone watching you. There is someone that you smile at, that you offer a kind word to, that you help, who takes note of your behavior and actions. A single word or action could possibly be something that someone may remember forever.
So, if we are all leaders, if we all in some way, leading those around us, how conscious should we be of our own actions? Are we making it a point to serve others or are we using this power to advance ourselves? Do we offer mercy and grace or are we quick to judge? James Kouzes and Barry Posner are quoted as saying:
“Are you on this planet to do something, or are you here just for something to do? If you’re on this planet to do something, then what is it? What difference will you make? What will be your legacy?”
Although it is difficult at times, it is so important for us to remember that God has a divine plan for each and every one of us, a plan for us to be leaders of not only our own legacy but His. We are here to show others the compassion and love He has so graciously shown us, to serve has He has served us.
Bible Gateway passage: John 13:12-15 - New International Version. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2017, from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John 13%3A12-15